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Ruminant production in the red soils region of southern China and in northern Australia

Overview of Project

The project was commissioned by CSIRO Livestock Industries, Australia and was aimed at developing economically viable pasture-based beef production systems in the degraded red and yellow soils regions of southern China, in order to meet the rapidly expanding domestic beef market in China and to reduce erosion. The project focused on strategies for using forages, crop residues and by-products. Computer software packages to predict animal performance in China and tropical Australia were developed through the project.

Key Outcomes of Project

The red soils region of central southern China covers an area the size of Western Australia (2.6 million km2) to the south of the Yangtze River. The region is characterised by high and soil erosive rainfall in spring, high evaporation rates in summer and cold winters. Almost half of this area has become seriously eroded as a result of excessive deforestation. There is increasing pressure to develop these soils for agricultural production, due to population pressure and economic growth.Three previous ACIAR projects have delivered technologies the project was designed to demonstrate the extent to which pasture forages help control erosion. The challenge for this project was converting these adapted forages into economic benefits for farmers. this was done by developing a forage-based ruminant production system that integrated with the other activities of smallholder farmers and producing usable materials like information CD-ROMs and negotiating updates to decision making software (CamBeef, GrazFeed) t

In China the team gathered and collated data about reproductive efficiency, growth rates, mortality, herd structure, age and weight at sale from around 240 households in three counties in Jiangxi and 300 in three counties in Hunan. These data became the benchmarks for later assessment of productivity gains.

The team also completed an inventory of available feed resources, identifying suitable local feedstuffs and by-products. Crop residue feed resources included straws from rice, peanut, sweet potato, and soybean, together with corn stalks. Crop by-products (energy/ protein rich meals) available in Jiangxi include rice bran and cottonseed meal while only rice bran was readily available in Hunan.

A list of recommended perennial summer growing grass species was drawn up for commercial use by smallholder farmers. Research showed that these species are advantageous due to their superior dry matter production in this environment, over-wintering capabilities and a growth habit more suitable for harvesting in a cut-and-carry system. Annual grass species were successfully integrated into rice-growing with beef production where fresh forages were used as the feed resource.Fourteen cattle growth experiments were completed during the project. Based on the results from these studies, the team developed and validated technologies for year-round feeding of beef cattle.

The team in Australia studied molasses supplementation, determining the relationship between amount of supplement and frequency of molasses ingestion on intake of forage and the substitution effect. More is now known about rumen function and rumen dynamics with differing amounts of supplement and the consequences for forage intake, also the effect of high molasses intake on drinking water intake and fluid kinetics. Other areas of better understanding include digestion of dietary components, the effect of molasses inclusion rate on forage (fibre) digestion, level of supplementation, interaction with forage quality and liveweight gain. In the study of grazing cattle, researchers determined how level of supplementation affected grazing behaviour, spatial distribution of cattle within paddocks, and liveweight gain. "

Project Dates

01 Jul 2001 - 30 Jun 2004

Partners

CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems - Australia
Jiangxi Agricultural University - China
Department of Rural and Social Development - Jiangxi - China
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences - China

Leaders

Dr Bob Hunter

Website
Launch Website